61. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the Citizens Information Board’s refusal to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection to discuss the reorganisation of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, MABS and the Citizen Information Service, CIS and the cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46859/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017)
Deputy Willie O’Dea: The question is self-explanatory. I am seeking the Minister’s views on the refusal by the Citizens Information Board, CIB, to attend a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection to discuss the reorganisation of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, MABS and the Citizen’s Information Service, CIS.
Deputy Regina Doherty: The decision to restructure MABS was made by the board of the CIB. I think the CIB declined the invitation because the Chairperson and chief executive officer had already met the committee at a meeting in February where they felt the matter was comprehensively discussed. They set out their position clearly, including the rationale for the decision and the details of the lengthy consultation process that took place before the board made its final decision. Deputy O’Dea may have a different opinion on all of that but he is aware that the CIB’s executive, on foot of a request from the joint Oireachtas committee, agreed to commission a cost, benefit analysis. It has done that and submitted it to the committee at the end of September.
The implementation of the new governance arrangements is expected to take up to two years to complete. Obviously we will have the few bob of the net cost to the Exchequer that will present itself over the next number of years. I think I am correct in saying that since the declining of the first invitation, after the cost, benefit analysis was submitted, the joint Oireachtas committee has issued another request for the CIB to come before it. I am not 100% sure on that as I am only recalling a conversation I had with somebody. I think that request is under consideration. I will check that and come back to the Deputy on it.
Deputy Willie O’Dea: The consultant’s report is very important. I have read it and I am sure all of my committee colleagues have read it too. There are a number of questions arising from it and I believe that the CIB should be prepared to come before the committee and engage on them, in fairness. There is a massive reorganisation going on. What the Minister says is true in that the Joint Oireachtas Committee met the board of the CIB last February but that was at the start of the process. We had a preliminary discussion then. It is an ongoing process, as the Minister has said and it is only fair and proper that the Oireachtas committee would have an input into that and would at least have the opportunity to discuss how the reorganisation is proceeding, as it goes on. From that point of view, it would be appropriate that the board of the CIB would come in and discuss those matters with the committee.
Deputy Regina Doherty: I know I said previously that I was not good at sticking my nose in but I will ask the CIB to very positively consider the joint Oireachtas committee’s request to come before it and to do so sooner rather than later. That is the best I can do for the Deputy.